Safety. Freight. Cycling. Public Transport. These are the investment priorities of the proposed Regional Land Transport Plan now out for consultation. They are also the Government’s priorities for investment, and if we want to see the Crown purse open our way, we need to get real about that.
Sitting behind these priorities is the mother of all issues, climate change. As recently stated by the Climate Change Commission, meeting our proposed emissions budgets and 2050 targets requires “transformational” change across all sectors of the economy.
As to transport specifically, the Commission states: “This means changing the way we travel and move goods. New Zealanders should be able to walk and cycle more. Freight will need to come off the road and onto rail and shipping. To lower emissions we will need to change the way we plan and build our cities to make it faster and easier to get around. Having an integrated public and shared transport system both locally and across Aotearoa will encourage a shift in the way we live and travel”.
This type of transformation is exactly what is proposed under the new Regional Transport Plan, rather than yesterday’s solutions to tomorrow’s problems, a.k.a, building more roads so we can all get around in single occupant private cars.
I see a lot of comment that roads and cars are the only realistic option for Hawke’s Bay, with a large land area and relatively small population. I disagree. That is dinosaur thinking. Rather than a four-lane expressway just for cars, how about a multi modal corridor between Hastings and Napier with a safe cycling lane and bus corridor. The Transport Plan contains proposed business case funding for this option.
As to public transport, we are planning to trial an ‘On Demand’ service in Hastings this year, using minibuses that can pick you up pretty much wherever you want, whenever you want, and take you wherever you want to go, for a flat fee similar to the current bus fare. They would operate a bit like ‘Uber’, but with minibuses and ride sharing by those going on similar trips. We will also be consulting on this On Demand trial under the Regional Councils’ Long Term Plan.
Central government is clearly saying you can forget major investments in new roads from this point. The priority now is maintenance and upgrading (which you may be pleased to hear, not least regarding State Highway 5!) and using our existing roads more efficiently. In our region, this means giving priority to business travel and freight on our roads where there are few realistic alternatives, and providing other options like cycling, walking and better public transport for general transport.
We as a Regional Transport Committee are proud of the innovations needed to achieve this transformation under this new Plan. But now we need your input. Please let us know if you agree with our approach, or (just as important) disagree!
Submissions close 28 February, so please have your say.
More info here: www.consultations.nz/hbrc/regional-land-transport-plan/